This negotiating update alerts you to an important breakthrough by Napo in the long running negotiations with the NPS on the maternity pay and harmonisation policies.
NPS members will be asked to indicate their agreement to this package in a separate communication that will follow shortly. As the circular points out Napo has been seeking a conclusive outcome on the maternity and and harmonisation package for some time and have had to persevere despite the barriers in our way.
This circular summarises the success for Napo negotiators in these talks and also sets out your unions future objectives around pay and our efforts to push for solutions to the chaos within the Shared Service Centres operation on a host of pay and pension related issues.
More news about these will follow soon, meanwhile NPS members are asked to look out for further communications and ensure that you take the opportunity to respond to the consultative exercise.
Members update for all Napo members in the NPS and CRCs
MATERNITY LEAVE VICTORY IN THE NPS - MEMBERS HARMONISATION CONSULTATION – reply required by 17th April
All NPS members should shortly be receiving an e-consultation from Napo on proposals to harmonise several MoJ/NOMS policies, including maternity leave and annual leave for new starters. The proposals are a vast improvement on the initial offers and reflect prolonged and difficult negotiations at national level. Napo is recommending the package as a whole following endorsement by Napo's Probation Negotiating Committee. Members will be asked to indicate their view by no later than 17th April.
Napo is the only union who has consistently pressed for urgent harmonisation of maternity leave since the time of the TR staff split but at various stages this has been prevented. In recent months the hold-up involved the NPS insisting that any improvement in maternity leave should be linked to a cut in annual leave. Napo very forcefully opposed a move that we considered to be discriminatory. Our campaign on International Women’s Day highlighted members’ frustration with the NPS, with hundreds posting pictures online saying #maternitymatters. This helped persuade the NPS to drop the link to leave, although the proposals do harmonise leave for new starters this will not be effective until the new policy commences in September 2017. The harmonisation of leave year for existing staff is March 2018.
NPS still have great concerns about their capacity to actually pay staff on maternity leave without several months lead in. This reflects the chaos and fundamental failings in the SSCL arrangements (see more below). Napo however proposed a compromise which was accepted. This means the package takes effect from 3rd September, except for maternity leave which will apply for members with an EWC of 30th April, 2017 albeit with NPS stating that they may have difficulty paying people impacted properly. This is an honest, albeit shocking admission fro a major government department but Napo’s view was, unless there are major changes to the SSCL contract, we couldn’t be confident they’d be any better placed to pay people accurately in September. An earlier or backdated application of maternity pay however would have been too chaotic.
Members who have not received an e-consultation to their preferred e mail address by Monday 10th April should contact Napo directly. New members in the NPS joining between now and 17th April can also join in the consultation.
PAY CLAIM COMING TO NPS, CRC and RISE
Hot on the back of the consultation about the NPS harmonisation package, Napo is also submitting their National Probation Pay Claim in the next few days. All members will be sent a copy of the claim so look out for it in your inbox over the coming week.
The claim is the same for all Employers, recognising that the same challenges of a broken pay and grading model have been transferred into the CRCs. The claim highlights how uncompetitive probation pay has become as a result of both the government’s prolonged pay freeze and the negative impact on pay progression in probation. Napo’s view is that these problems must be urgently addressed if probation employers are to have any chance of competing for staff or avoiding huge recruitment and retention challenges.
The recognised unions have been involved in pay reform negotiations with the NPS for some months and we remain hopeful that reform supporting the aims of the pay claim will be possible. The creation of HMPPS adds further pressure on the NPS, as staff being expected to move into a custodial setting could be asked to provide support and quality assurance for prison staff. We are also conscious however of the huge risk to the CRCs’ capacity to compete for staff if NPS unilaterally introduces a significant pay gap. The same principle applies regarding softer terms such as maternity leave. For this reason, Napo are lobbying government to make sure that the Probation Services Review (which is reviewing CRC contracts) recognises this risk and allows for a price adjustment so that CRCs can compete and members working in CRCs are protected. This is in line with our mandate to defend collective bargaining.
To support the claim and the campaign around it Napo Branches will be asked to organise a series of meetings and briefings for members. Please look out for details of these.
Ongoing pay and processing problems in the SSCL
Napo has had real difficulties trying to resolve the many different processing failures in NPS HR. These currently include some new starters not being paid at all; continuing problems with staff not having the correct PAYE amounts deducted leading to tax issues; staff changing their working pattern (e.g. maternity leave; going part time; increasing their hours) not being paid or taxed correctly; pensions contributions not being correctly collected; staff moving roles being issued with the wrong contracts; etc. We are extremely conscious of the increased risks arising from more staff being moved towards working in HMPPS.
The SSCL contract is clearly another example of the failed, rushed TR sell off. Put bluntly, any shared-service model can only work if all those covered are on shared terms and conditions. The insistence from HM Treasury that the split was dependent upon probation staff remaining in the local government pension scheme alone means this isn’t possible. Failures to address pay issues just exaggerate the differences whilst differences in maternity and leave have further highlighted the problem. Napo has been willing to address harmonisation to try and solve members’ problems but as we close the gaps the scale of the problem becomes ever clearer.
Napo is now of the view that this cannot be fixed without starting over. We are now lobbying Ministers and the Justice Select Committee to call for an enquiry into TR and asking them to call in the SSCL contract.
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Ian Lawrence (General Secretary), Dean Rogers (Assistant General Secretary
Yvonne Pattison, Chris Winters (Co-Chairs)